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Why Don’t You Run Horses To The Barn

Why Don’t You Run Horses To The Barn

Running horses to the barn is a common practice among horse owners and trainers. It involves allowing horses to run freely from the pasture to the barn, often in an attempt to save time or energy. However, this practice can have negative consequences for both the horses and their handlers. In this article, we will explore the reasons why running horses to the barn is not recommended and discuss alternative methods for safely and efficiently bringing horses in.

The Dangers of Running Horses

While it may seem like a quick and easy way to bring horses in, running them to the barn can pose several risks:

  • Injuries: Horses running at high speeds can easily injure themselves or others. They may slip, trip, or collide with obstacles, leading to sprains, fractures, or even more severe injuries.
  • Stress and Anxiety: Horses are prey animals and are naturally inclined to be cautious and alert. Running them to the barn can cause unnecessary stress and anxiety, as they may perceive the situation as a threat.
  • Behavioral Issues: Frequent running to the barn can reinforce undesirable behaviors, such as bolting or barging through gates. Horses may become pushy or difficult to handle, compromising their safety and the safety of their handlers.
  • Damage to Pasture and Facilities: Running horses can cause damage to the pasture, especially if the ground is wet or muddy. They may also damage fences, gates, or other structures in their path.

Alternative Methods for Bringing Horses In

Fortunately, there are safer and more effective methods for bringing horses in from the pasture:

1. Establish a Routine

Creating a consistent routine can help horses understand and anticipate when it’s time to come in. Establish a regular feeding schedule and stick to it. Horses are creatures of habit and will learn to associate specific times with being brought in.

2. Use Treats or Feed

Using treats or feed as a reward can motivate horses to come willingly. Carry a bucket of their favorite treats or a small amount of feed and shake it to get their attention. This positive reinforcement will encourage them to approach you willingly.

3. Train Recall Commands

Teaching horses recall commands, such as “come” or a specific whistle, can be a valuable tool for bringing them in. Start by using the command in a controlled environment and reward them when they respond correctly. Gradually increase the distance and distractions to reinforce their understanding.

4. Utilize Pasture Rotation

Implementing a pasture rotation system can help reduce the distance between the barn and the horses. By dividing the pasture into smaller sections and regularly rotating them, horses will have shorter distances to travel, making it easier and safer to bring them in.

5. Use Herd Dynamics

Horses are herd animals and are influenced by the behavior of their companions. Utilize the natural herd dynamics by leading a trusted and well-trained horse to the barn first. The other horses are likely to follow, as they feel more secure and comfortable following a leader.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

1. Is running horses to the barn ever acceptable?

While running horses to the barn should generally be avoided, there may be rare situations where it is necessary, such as during an emergency or when immediate safety concerns arise. However, these instances should be the exception rather than the norm.

2. Can running horses to the barn cause long-term physical damage?

Running horses to the barn can potentially cause long-term physical damage, especially if they frequently slip or collide with obstacles. It is essential to prioritize the safety and well-being of the horses by using alternative methods for bringing them in.

3. How can I prevent horses from becoming pushy or difficult to handle?

Consistent and proper training is key to preventing horses from becoming pushy or difficult to handle. Establish clear boundaries and reinforce good behavior. Seek guidance from a professional trainer if needed.

4. Will using treats or feed to bring horses in encourage bad behavior?

Using treats or feed as a reward can be an effective tool when used correctly. However, it is important to establish boundaries and only reward horses when they behave appropriately. Consistency and moderation are key to avoiding the development of bad behavior.

5. How long does it take to train horses to respond to recall commands?

The time it takes to train horses to respond to recall commands can vary depending on the individual horse and the consistency of training. It may take several weeks or even months of regular practice to achieve reliable recall responses.

6. Can pasture rotation be beneficial for horses other than bringing them in?

Yes, pasture rotation offers several benefits for horses. It helps prevent overgrazing, allows for better parasite control, and promotes healthier pasture growth. Additionally, it can reduce the risk of injury by providing horses with fresh and safe grazing areas.


Running horses to the barn may seem like a convenient solution, but it poses risks to the horses’ well-being and safety. Injuries, stress, behavioral issues, and damage to the pasture and facilities are all potential consequences. Instead, establishing a routine, using treats or feed, training recall commands, utilizing pasture rotation, and leveraging herd dynamics are safer and more effective methods for bringing horses in. By prioritizing their welfare and implementing these alternatives, horse owners and trainers can ensure a smoother and more enjoyable experience for both themselves and their equine companions.